Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

Filtering by Category: "tomatoes"

Homemade Salsa

Ahhhh Summer, one of my favorite times of year. The smell of fresh cut grass and bbq's in the air. This past weekend we had a cookout for Mother's Day, well a cook-in since the weather didn't cooperate. I had a craving the whole week for salsa and when asked if I was bringing anything to the party I figured, what the heck, I'll bring some salsa! There is just no comparison between homemade salsa and store bought, the freshness factor just makes it so much more flavorful. The best part?? It literally takes 10 min to make, win-win in my book! 

  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes w/ Juice
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel, diced tomatoes & green chilies
  • 1/4 cup Onion, chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, sliced 
  • 1/4 tsp Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro
  • 1/2 Lime, juiced 

This is quite a large batch of salsa, which is great for a party. Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (I actually charred the outside of the Jalapeno's first with a blowtorch to give it some smokey-ness, this is of course optional). Transfer with a spoon to a food processor bowl, depending on the size of your food processor you'll have to do a few batches. Pulse 10-15 times until you get a nice consistency. Transfer to a container and repeat until you have used all the mixture. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving or can it for delicious salsa all year long!

**Note: If you want your salsa to be less spicy, remove some of the jalapeno seeds and membrane...that's where all the heat is**

Song of the Recipe

I have always loved Pearl Jam and when Eddie Veder released this solo album, it definitely made me curious. But, it's an awesome album and made me fall in love with the Ukulele. This whole album is perfect for patio sitting & margarita drinking! 

Charred Cajun Bruschetta

If you haven't gotten the hint yet...I like spicy. I like to take recipes and give them a little cajun/southwest flavor. Like bruschetta for example, it's such a classic italian appetizer that tastes delicious the traditional way, but it's also a recipe that you can have a lot of creative freedom with to make it into something different. So by charring all the vegetables under a broiler adds in a little smokey flavor, adding in some jalapeno gives it some heat, and using cilantro and lime juice gives it some of those southwest flavors. Figuring out what flavors makes you tick when trying to take your cooking skills to the next level is important. Once you figure out your "voice" in the kitchen, you can take any classic recipe and really make it your own.

  • 2 Lbs Roma tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion; halved with skin removed
  • 3 Jalapeno's, halved and seeded
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Kosher salt & black pepper, to taste
  • French Baguette
  • Fresh Mozzarella; sliced

Set broiler to high.

Place tomatoes, jalapeno's and red onion skin side up on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Drizzle all the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Place pan 4" below the broiler and broil for about 6 minutes, until darkly roasted. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Once the vegetables are cooled, dice them and mix them all together in a zip lock bag. Add in the minced garlic, cilantro, olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste). Mix all the ingredients together until incorporated.

Slice baguette into 1/4" thick slices on the bias and toast them in the oven. Once toasted, top with sliced mozzarella and the charred vegetable mixture. Serve as a side with the Cajun Sweet Potato Soup.  


Sausage & Peppers Pasta


This is a very simple pasta dish that is perfect for a quick meal. My mom used to make this all the time and it was always one of my favorites. Of course I stole the recipe from her whenever I moved out and decided to make it a little more spicy with the addition of the Diced Tomatoes and Chilies and the Pepper Jack. If you want a more mild version instead of using the pepper jack, use 1 1/2 cups of a mozzarella and parmesan blend and use regular diced tomatoes.

Bon Appétit!


  • 3 Cups wheat Rigatoni
  • Italian Sausage, Sliced
  • 1 green, yellow & red pepper, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Diced Tomatoes and Chilies
  • 3/4 cup Mozzarella, shredded
  • 3/4 cup Pepper Jack, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese


Cook Pasta as per box directions.

While pasta is cooking, cook sausage in a large saute pan over medium heat for 10 min. Add sliced peppers and and garlic and cook for an addition 7 min.  Stir in tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 min. Drain pasta, add it in the saucepan with other ingredients and top with mozzarella and pepper jack , cover to melt the cheese. Plate and garnish with Parmesan.

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